Hello there, I cannot believe that in less than a week I am leaving for Finland. Time has just flown by in the past year. It is absolutely crazy to think about how fast it came. Out of all the places I got chosen for Finland, I know it might be weird why Finland out of all the places I could have chosen from, well, a wise man once said (Mr. Scott Burgess) “You do not choose the country, the country chooses you.” Those words alone hit me harder than anything else. Funny enough, those same words began this journey. Scott had come to my school, Creekside High School, to do a presentation on Rotary, specifically the Youth Exchange. You know, as a junior, I thought this was going to be another boring assembly, but it ended up changing my life and my mindset about literally every little thing. It has been almost 10 months now since that day, and now I’m on a journey through uncharted lands. Well, to me, of course. Throughout this year, I have learned so much through my own research and that of past exchange students. I would have never thought to see myself where I am today. One thing that separates me from everyone else is that, surprisingly, it has been my dream to travel the world. I know that this program and journey will open doors and opportunities for me and the people around me. The people I will meet and talk to are an opportunity in themselves. I have always thought school wasn’t going to get me anywhere, and that school was very boring, but now through school, I’m going out to start my dream of traveling the world. I know that even after this journey, I will be traveling through school and through other business opportunities. I will even be helping future outbounds on their journey into the unknown. In less than a week, I will begin to embark on a journey into the unknown. Wish me luck and pray for me and everyone else embarking on the same exchange. Some of the goals and things I want to do are either really easy or really hard, so I need to work really hard and harder than ever before to get most of them done. This is not like a free year or “vacation,” as a lot of people tell me. It’s a year to learn about culture and language and fully immerse yourself in a different way of living. It will be hard and challenging, but at the end of the day, this journey will not only mature me but will also open my eyes to see how different people can be. I can only imagine how lucky I am to be where I am today and where I am going to be in a year from now. I cannot imagine where I am going to be in five years. I just want to thank everyone for helping me get into the program and getting me prepared for this journey.